What are you willing to sacrifice?

What are you willing to sacrifice?

America- a country built on sacrifice. A country whose foundation is built by those who left what they knew in order to ensure freedom and secure blessings of liberty.

The tradition of sacrifice began in the 1700s for Americans and continues today.

Citizens make sacrifices daily that better the lives of others. Unfortunately, in the past year, many Americans have weighed the costs and benefits of wearing a mask and decided that sacrifice is not important enough to them. The decision lacks compassion and puts others at risk. For example, a person who refuses to wear a face mask at the grocery store could infect a 27 year-old who takes care of his mom with cancer.

Compared to the long list of sacrifices U.S. citizens make daily, it doesn’t make logical sense that people can’t sacrifice “freedom” and wear a mask. Listed below are a few of the astounding sacrifices made by Americans.

   Military: Thousands of Americans put their life on the line every day, all for the well-being of their country. They set foot in places with the knowledge that a bomb could go off or that an enemy could shoot them. They miss Christmases with their families or important milestones for their kids. Instructor Nate Townsend knows this sacrifice very well. “You sacrifice a normal life with friends and family. It’s hard to be a parent and a military member at the same time. It’s hard to be a good spouse. It’s hard to readjust to civilian life after your military service is done,” Townsend said.

   Activists: Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Ruby Bridges. Activists who selflessly fought for their cause, equal rights. They were willing to face any consequences of their rebellion in order to achieve equality. Majority of the time, the risks included alienation from society, jail time, or even death. Advances like these have shaped society for the better. Americans have activists to thank for the freedoms they have now.

Immigrants: Children of immigrants witness first-hand the hardships their parents willingly endure for a better life for their families. They are willing to leave the country they grew up in, the place they call home, in hopes of a promising future for their children. The courage it takes to know the risks yet undergo the journey in hopes for a better life is astonishing.

Parents: The second a child is born, they immediately depend on their parents. Children need to be supported physically, financially, and emotionally. A parent’s ultimate focus becomes their child, exchanging nights of sleep to caring for them. They pass up job opportunities to keep their kids in the same school, work overtime to pay for extracurriculars, and take their lunch break to bring an item to school forgotten at home.

 Teachers: Jr. Meagan Rockafellow spoke of her appreciation for one of her teachers who will do anything to lead them to success. “I was kind of struggling with speaking in Spanish class and that was an area I needed to focus on but didn’t know how. Even though Señora Holmes is with students all day and lunch is her only free time, she gave it up so that a few of us could practice. She never acted like it was a burden either. She was excited that we were learning. She would do anything for us to be successful.” Holmes’s dedication is admirable, but not unusual for a teacher.

Health care workers: Health care professionals constantly model a posture of selflessness. It is no surprise they became America’s superheroes when a pandemic hit. Citizens were encouraged to stay home, but healthcare workers continued to brave the unknown, knowing many lives depended on their work. Hailey Hoover worked in the ICU telemetry unit at Holland Hospital during lockdown. It was originally a heart unit but shifted over to caring for extreme COVID patients when case numbers were high. “We did see a lot more deaths in the hospital and because of COVID, families couldn’t be there so we would set up Zoom calls in the room so families could talk to the patient especially before we intubated them. It was hard because you would see families so distraught about their loved ones doing so poorly,” Hoover said.

Many healthcare workers like Hoover began to be recognized by their communities. People would clap and hit pans outside their windows each night, but their heroic actions began long before 2019 and will continue forever.

Working in fields during a pandemic: The word “essential” became commonly used during COVID shutdowns. Citizens began to depend on the people whose jobs they normally forgot about. Hard-working people like those who continued to work in fields and factories kept the country going and its people alive. The risk was great, many contracting COVID, but the people in America depended on them. They showed up.

   9/11: September 11, 2001, the U.S. faced a terrorist attack that resulted in 2,977 deaths. 412 of these civilians were emergency workers: firefighters, police officers, and EMT’s. As the building in front of them was collapsing, they put other people’s lives before their own. They ran into a situation knowing there was a high chance they would not make it out alive. But they did because they were willing to sacrifice themselves for the lives of strangers.

Within the past year, the downfall of America’s pride has come to light. People are reluctant to make certain sacrifices even if someone’s health or safety depends on it. The unwillingness to wear a mask, stay home, or get vaccinated is a tangible representation of the inability to sacrifice.

Some are so willing to put their life on the line, yet refuse to wear a piece of fabric over their mouth and nose. Where do they draw the line? A common argument against wearing a mask is ‘my freedom is being impeded, the government is trying to control us!’ When they hear the response, ‘wearing a mask protects other people,’ some respond with ‘well only old people die from COVID, and they’re going to die anyway so it’s not a big deal.’

Tell that to the healthcare workers like Hoover who had to unplug the ventilators of patients whose bracelets started in 2000 under date of birth. “One thing we noticed with those in their 20’s that got really sick was that they had more symptoms that were heart (cardiovascular) related than lung (respiratory). Many younger people developed blood clots in their lungs, which is classed a pulmonary embolism and can be lethal,” Hoover said.

On top of watching people young and old die daily, Hoover felt discouraged and angry when she would leave the hospital and go out in public only to see maskless people. Going on social media only to find everyone’s ‘professional opinion’ also became frustrating for Hoover. “I remember this specifically that someone posted on Facebook that made me so angry. This person was talking about the mask mandate and they said, ‘I would rather put a bullet in my brain than wear a mask.’ I just remember being so infuriated because a mask doesn’t hurt you at all and it protects people and their families.”

America is right to be proud of the sacrifices its citizens make. However, we should be disgusted by how our country has acted this past year. Too many people have lacked simple empathy. Choosing “freedom” by refusing to wear a mask over possibly saving a person’s LIFE is plain heartless. Let’s do better.